Happy new year to everyone! As we say Good-bye to 2014 and welcome 2015 with open arms and with lots of hopes and expectations for a happy, prosperous and fun-filled new year, it's also the perfect time to make resolutions! Review what was good about the past year and identify where things could improve for the new year.
If there is one food resolution which is most near and dear to my heart for many years now it is to eat home-cooked meals often and buy locally and seasonally grown food as much as possible.
Before global transportation was as pervasive (think our grandparent's generation), eating local and seasonal is what everyone did. You ate apples in fall, squashes and tomatoes in summer and strawberries in spring - it was all part of enjoying the season. And you preserved or pickled seasonal vegetables to enjoy year-around..
Then happened global transportation boom and food industrialization - both resulted in foods being easily transportable 100's of miles from their original picking destination to being shipped to opposite parts of the worlds for consumers to enjoy year-around. Not only it's taxing to the environment but it also causes foods to be picked ahead of ripening and more use of pesticides or other ways to keep food remain fresh while it's being shipped oversees.
The best way to start buying local and seasonal is to visit your local farmer's markets or be part of local CSA or co-ops which will deliver a basket of locally grown seasonal produce right to your door-steps.
There are innumerable advantages of eating locally and seasonally.
- First, you are eating product picked right at it's peaks within hours of being picked. Not only does it taste fresh, it also tastes so much better than the supermarket equivalent that even the pickiest eater will find something they love.
- You will help local farmer's eco-system and sustainable growing practices
- Fruits and produce bought seasonally is often cheaper due to it's availability helping you save $$
- Just the weekly ritual of visiting farmer's markets, looking at rows and rows of freshly picked produce and choosing what to buy can be so therapeutic and if kids are part of it right from their childhood, I do believe they are naturally grown towards eating more vegetables and eating healthier!
There are also some challenges to seasonal/local eating and here are some tips I found useful:
- Seasonal can often mean repetition - you end up buying same vegetables weeks in a row because that's what is in season. But then, this is your chance to be creative in kitchen! Google various ways to cook with that vegetable and experiment with a new one every week - who knows, you will find a keeper recipe somewhere in there that you didn't even know about!
- How do you know what's in season - there are great resources online or visiting farmer's markets is a more fun way to find out for yourself :)
- Access to locally grown seasonal food - farmer's markets, CSAs, produce co-ops or even some supermarkets now-a-days carry local seasonal produce marked as such!
In this day and age of genetically modified everything and food industrialization, I truly feel that eating local and seasonal is a small step in the right direction, for our health, for our local farming ecosystem and for the environment!
I personally know the farmer's now who serve us vegetables on our plates everyday and I know I am doing my part in developing the local sustainable ecosystem, but really the main reason I eat local/seasonal is the taste, there is just no comparison to supermarket food grown halfway across the world -- just try your local farmer's market next time and see it for yourself!